June 18, 2015
MEDIA CONTACT: Samantha Friedman, West End Strategy Team,, Office: (202) 776-7700, Cell: (202) 215-9260

Washington, DC−The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence released the below statement in response to Wednesday’s shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston:

“We at the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence are heartbroken today as we contemplate the death and suffering caused by yesterday’s mass shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston.“As we learn more details about the gunman and his background, there will be a time to contemplate the policy implications of this tragedy. But, today, as we focus on the murder of nine Americans in a house of worship – including South Carolina state Senator Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney – the focus should be on a degenerate gun culture that continues to enable these uniquely American horrors.

“Consider, for example, the following:

  • The man suspected of committing the shooting, Dylann Roof, was given a .45-caliber handgun by his father as a present for his 21st birthday in April, despite the fact that Roof had just been arrested for possession of a controlled substance. Roof also had posted a profile picture of himself on Facebook wearing a jacket covered with white supremacist patches. One was the flag of South Africa’s apartheid government. The second was the flag of the former white-controlled country of Rhodesia, which later became Zimbabwe. ‘People don’t randomly have those symbols on a jacket,’ said Mark Pitcavage of the Anti-Defamation League. ‘You have to have a certain point of view, a certain world view.’
  • Today’s edition of The Post and Courier in Charleston included a sticker advertising the ATP Gunshop & Range in Summerville, South Carolina. ‘LADIES NIGHT THURDAY,’ reads the ad. ‘$30 GETS YOU EVERYTHING.’ The sticker was posted directly above the headline, ‘Church Attack Kills 9.’
  • Speaking on Fox News & Friends this morning, host Steve Doocy – completely devoid of any actual evidence – questioned whether the massacre was a hate crime and advanced the notion that more guns will make us safer. ‘If somebody was there, they would have had the opportunity to pull out their weapon and take [the shooter] out – if somebody in there had a gun,’ said Doocy. Co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck agreed, calling it a ‘great point.’
  • South Carolina politicians issued statements offering the customary ‘thoughts and prayers,’ with little in the way of solutions to prevent the next tragedy. Congressman Mark Sanford described the shooting as an ‘outlier’ that is ‘out of place’ in South Carolina, despite the fact that he has supported permissive gun laws throughout his career and engaged in race-baiting politics (e.g., in 2012, Sanford suggested on Fox News that President Obama would ‘come out and throw a lot of spears’ at an upcoming debate). South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley’s statement read, ‘We’ll never understand what motivates anyone to enter one of our places of worship and take the life of another.’ Meanwhile, she continues to support legislation that would allow the next Dylann Roof to carry a gun in public – openly or concealed – without having to obtain a permit, undergo a background check, or demonstrate any proficiency through a training program.
  • Ted Nugent continues to sit on the National Rifle Association Board of Directors following years of virulently racist statements describing African-Americans and other minorities as ‘subhuman mongrels,’ ‘unclean vermin,’ ‘greasy black mongrels’ and the like.

“We refuse to entertain an immoral debate that places the blame on the victims and survivors of this shooting (e.g., ‘They could have stopped this if they had been armed.’). The responsibility for this bloodshed falls squarely on the shoulders of those who have continued to engage in the idolatry of firearms in the wake of one massacre after another, whether for political power, or personal profit, or because they feel marginalized in modern America and seek a tool through which to enhance their control over others. It is they who ensure that one dangerous individual after another will be able to immediately – and often legally – access firearms in this country, no matter how many obvious warning signs these individuals display regarding a history of violence.

‘Thoughts and prayers’ are not enough anymore, particularly for politicians like those in South Carolina whose actions guarantee the inevitability of another slaughter. It is time for Americans who celebrate human life and shared community to raise their voices, louder and stronger, until they match and exceed the volume of those who fetishize guns and despise our grand experiment in democratic government.”

The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV) seeks to secure freedom from gun violence through research, strategic engagement and effective policy advocacy. CSGV can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

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